The Return of Ray Rice
Now that I’ve had a few days to digest my turkey and the latest on Ray Rice, I have a few thoughts about his possible return to the NFL. I think it will definitely happen and I don’t think it will end up being that big of a deal. I’m talking about his return to the league not being a big deal, not what got him suspended to begin with. We all know that what happened on that Atlantic City elevator almost a year ago, was completely wrong. But the more you follow sports or current events or simple human nature, you realize that we love to bring people down from their high horse but we also show a certain capacity to quickly forget and move on. It happened with Michael Vick a few years ago, who mistreated animals and was well on his way to the public opinion gas chamber, when almost before you knew it, he was right back playing in the NFL.
You might say that punching your fiancé in the face is worse than killing dogs (although there would be a lot of animal lovers who would argue that point) but the point is both actions are despicable and deserving of severe punishment. Once that punishment has been handed out we as a society often give the villain the benefit of the doubt and let him become part of our world again. The fact that Ray Rice’s now wife has stood by his side throughout all of this, takes much of his evil away. Sure, many say she’s only standing by him because he’s her golden ticket, but that is just us being hateful and judgmental again. Maybe she genuinely loves Rice and forgives him for what he did, and if she can, shouldn’t we? Rice has also said all the right things. He’s shown remorse, committed to speaking to young men about domestic violence and talked about making amends for what he did.
The other side of the “Return of Ray Rice” melodrama is, he can still play ball and help a team out. Just like in the Vick case, if Rice were 35 years old and running on bad knees, every team in the league would take the high ground and publicly state that they want no part of Rice. The fact that he is just 27 years old, still a very good running back and particularly good as a third down back, means that several teams will be willing to take a chance on him. Then like everything in professional sports (and quite possibly life) it comes down to the money. Coaches and general managers all over the league want desperately to keep their high paying jobs. Most coaches and GMs don’t have much job security, so if adding Ray Rice improves their team and by extension, their position in the owner’s eyes, damn straight they’ll bring Rice on board.
Rice has four 1,000 yard seasons in his career, has rushed for over 6,000 total yards, and has averaged 61 receptions a season. Coming out of college in 2008 he had a 39 inch vertical and ran a 4.3 40. Those guys don’t fall out of trees and considering he should have another 3-4 more good seasons, he’ll be in someone’s training camp next summer. Scruples only go so far when someone’s won-loss record is on the line.